Cowie (The Rich and the Mighty, The Bad and The Beautiful, Games) again tackles the jet-set in this tale of rival stepsisters fighting for control of a major auction house--from New York to London to Paris to Hong Kong. Opening night, New York: The rich and famous gather at the doors of Despard's, fledgling European competitor to Sotheby's and Christie's, headed by beautiful Dominique du Vivier, stepdaughter of the recently deceased procelain magnate, Despard, and wife of the sexy and magnetic businessman Blaise Chandler. The night is a ferocious success, but when the stepfather's will is read the following morning, it's revealed that the man Dominique thought she had wrapped around her tiniest finger--like all other men in her life--has given equal sway to his mousy natural daughter. What Despard has done is set up a challenge between the ""girls,"" to wit: whoever can reap higher profits for Despard's in one year's time will inherit the empire. Catriona (Kate) Despard, four years younger at 26, is plain but redheaded (""so violently red it was an insult""), unpretentious but fiery; and, though she has exquisite taste in porcelain, she has none of Dominique's savvy or pizazz. The multimillion dollar question is, Can Kate learn enough in the allotted year to compete with the dazzling and ruthless Dominique? Blaise, as executor, is forced to take a neutral position, which becomes increasingly less so as the charms of the homelier ""sister"" become more apparent. On the final pages we learn who wins the auction and the man. More soap-melodrama on the clichÃ‰d theme of rival sisters: occasional moments of energy, but essentially uninspired.